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World Cup in focus

Eight Bayern stars aiming for South Africa

Just ten minutes after the final whistle in Saturday’s Bundesliga encounter with Karlsruhe, Bayern stalwart Lucio had already showered, changed, leapt into his car and raced away from the Allianz Arena, with Martin Demichelis hot on his heels. The centre-backs were both headed for the airport, from where they flew to South America that very same Saturday evening.

Both will spend the next ten or so days with their national teams in the hunt for vital 2010 World Cup qualifying points. Lucio and five-time world champions Brazil meet Ecuador in Quito next Sunday, before the Selecao entertain Peru in Porto Alegre three days later.

Home tie for Demichelis

Argentina’s home fixture next Saturday, a meeting with Venezuela in Buenos Aires, has special meaning for Martin Demichelis. The venue is the Estadio Monumental, home to Demichelis‘ boyhood club River Plate. Three days later, the Albiceleste face a tricky challenge with a trip to Bolivia and the uncomfortable prospect of playing at 3,600 metres above sea level in La Paz, seat of the Bolivian government.

In the league-system South American qualifying competition, Brazil (17 points) and Argentina (16) lie second and third, trailing leaders Paraguay (23). The top four teams qualify directly for the global showdown in South Africa next year, with the team in fifth playing off against the fourth-placed finishers in North and Central America and the Caribbean for a further berth at the finals.